Differential TLR-ERK1/2 activity promotes viral ssRNA and dsRNA mimic-induced dysregulated immunity in macrophages

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Differential TLR-ERK1/2 activity promotes viral ssRNA and dsRNA mimic-induced dysregulated immunity in macrophages


Shrestha, R.; Johnson, P.; Ghimire, R.; Whitley, C.; Channappanavar, R.


RNA virus induced excessive inflammation and impaired antiviral interferon (IFN-I) responses are associated with severe disease. This innate immune response, also referred to as dysregulated immunity, is caused by viral single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) and double-stranded-RNA (dsRNA) mediated exuberant inflammation and viral protein-induced IFN antagonism. However, key host factors and the underlying mechanism driving viral RNA-mediated dysregulated immunity are poorly defined. Here, using viral ssRNA and dsRNA mimics, which activate toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) and TLR3, respectively, we evaluated the role of viral RNAs in causing dysregulated immunity. We show that murine bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) stimulated with TLR3 and TLR7 agonists induce differential inflammatory and antiviral cytokine response. TLR7 activation triggered a robust inflammatory cytokine/chemokine induction compared to TLR3 activation, whereas TLR3 stimulation induced significantly increased IFN/IFN stimulated gene (ISG) response relative to TLR7 activation. To define the mechanistic basis for dysregulated immunity, we examined cell-surface and endosomal TLR levels and downstream mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) activation. We identified a significantly higher cell-surface and endosomal TLR7 expression compared to TLR3, which further correlated with early and robust MAPK (pERK1/2 and p-P38) and NF-kB activation in TLR7-stimulated macrophages. Furthermore, blocking EKR1/2, p38, and NF-kB activity reduced TLR3/7-induced inflammatory cytokine/chemokine levels, whereas only ERK1/2 inhibition enhanced viral RNA-mimic-induced IFN/ISG responses. Collectively, our results illustrate that high cell surface and endosomal TLR7 expression and robust ERK1/2 activation drive viral ssRNA mimic-induced excessive inflammatory and reduced IFN/ISG responses, and blocking ERK1/2 activity would mitigate viral-RNA/TLR-induced dysregulated immunity.

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